Think of a time when you were truly amazed (we might throw this word around too much these days, but I think it takes a significant event to truly amaze). The birth of my children comes to mind: I was amazed to see how strong my wife was, to see my children for the first time, to hear their cries and watch them breathe, to hold them in my arms. I was truly amazed. When we look through Scripture, there are only two times when Jesus is described as being amazed, and what amazed Him were two very different displays of faith.
The first involved a Roman officer who told Jesus that his servant was paralyzed and in terrible pain. Jesus told the officer that He would come and heal the servant. The officer’s response left Jesus amazed.
“But the officer said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.’” (Matthew 8:8-9)
Romans were not believers; theirs was a pagan culture, and to be an officer, a Roman would have to participate in pagan religious oaths to their “divine” emperor. They were feared and hated by the Jews as the Roman soldiers and officers represented oppression and occupation. Yet here was a man with greater faith and more understanding of Jesus’ authority than anyone Jesus had seen in all of Israel.
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!’” (Matthew 8:10)
The second time Jesus is described as being amazed is in Mark 6. Jesus and His disciples were in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, and He was teaching in the synagogue. The people were amazed at his wisdom and power to perform miracles (Mark 6:2) but they quickly began to doubt and scoff because they’d seen Jesus grow up; they knew his mother and his brothers and sisters, so they wrote him off as nothing more than a carpenter and, as such, they refused to believe in him (Mark 6:3).
“Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.’ And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:4-6)
Throughout the gospels, Jesus makes it clear that it was because of a person’s faith that they were able to receive the miracles He performed for them. When the woman touched Jesus’ robe in the crowd, Jesus told her that her faith had made her well (Mark 5:34); when Jesus healed ten men with leprosy and only one returned to say thank you, He told the man, “Your faith has healed you” (Luke 17:19), and when two blind men approached Jesus and asked for mercy, Jesus told them, “Because of your faith, it will happen” (Matthew 9:29). Our faith plays a crucial role in our ability to receive Jesus’ miracles. In Jesus’ hometown, the people already had their minds made up about who Jesus was. They had no faith in Him, so He couldn’t do any miracles among them and their unbelief amazed Him.
Jesus was amazed at opposite displays of faith, so the question is, how will we amaze Jesus? Will it be by our faith or our unbelief? This writer is sure that he has done more of the latter than the former; I worry and fret and fear: all displays of a weak faith. Join me in working every day to deepen your faith and follow the example of the Roman officer; let’s amaze Jesus with our faith and deepen our belief in Him and His Divine Authority.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.